Disclaimer: Prince of Tennis was created by Konomi Takeshi. No profit is intended to be gained by this story.

AN: This was my entry for the RyoSaku LiveJournal fanfic/fanart exchange. For the contest, I was given a prompt from littleswtangel, who wanted:

- A RyoSaku married life.
- Humor, romance, and steaminess.
- Rinko (Ryoma's Mom) desiring for a grandchild and look at the newlyweds.
- A rating of PG-13 and up.
- Canon.

This fic is rated M for mature. Please note the rating!

Practically Speaking

By Cinpii


She was mewling his name again. Then again, he was doing things to make her mewl his name. Echizen Ryoma smiled as his wife squirmed beneath him, her knees clamped around his shoulders. He drew another long, languorous lick that sent her quivering.

"R-ryoma…"

He loved the way she said his name, especially during these private moments. He pushed into her then, eyes locked on her face as his fingers dipped into her slick heat.

Soft, pink lips parted for another ragged exhale. "Nnngh…"

Ryoma withdrew his fingers and then pushed them into her again, mimicking what he would do to her with another part of his body very soon. Harder now. A little faster. He adjusted the pace by her reactions.

Knitted brows? Check.

Accelerated breathing? Check.

Pleading?

Ryoma thrust deeper. Sakuno reacted.

Check.

"Just a little longer," he promised, placing a kiss on her trembling stomach.

She shook her head, small hands tugging at him to bring him up.

"So impatient," he tsked, but he understood her meaning. Sakuno wanted him in her arms.

He dipped his head to bite the sensitized skin of her inner thigh, a playful nip to test her patience. She cried out as her body lurched off the mattress at the unexpected pain. Her hands fisted. His name escaped her in a breathless half gasp. Ryoma's ears luxuriated in the sound.

"Shhhh," he soothed, laving the red mark with his tongue.

She tugged at him again, and this time, he did not resist. Ryoma cradled Sakuno's head. Gentle fingers brushed away the reddish brown bangs that clung to her face. He bent down and kissed her slowly, thoroughly, before he proceeded to claim her once more.


Echizen Sakuno hummed as she dallied around in the kitchen. Her husband would be coming home soon and she wanted to have dinner ready by then. She lifted a lid and stirred the ingredients of the thick ceramic pot. The aroma of its contents delighted her nose, and she knew that Ryoma would enjoy this meal.

The bright white flash of her diamond solitaire glinted off her finger, and she took the time to appreciate it. Who would have guessed that Ryoma had such good taste when it came to engagement rings? Sakuno smiled, adjusting the band around her finger so that the sparkling gem sat more centered. It was during the quiet moments in her day when she would take the time to admire it and its matching wedding band.

She lowered the heat on the simmering soup. It would be a while before the full flavors of the seafood nabe blossomed, which gave her time to woolgather. Karupin weaved his body between her calves. She bent down to ruffle his whiskered chin before scooping him up to settle into a nearby chair. With the murmur of the bubbling pot in her ears and the warmth of the cat in her lap, Sakuno's eyes drifted closed as the memories came back.


"Just a minute!" twenty three year old Ryuzaki Sakuno called as she hurriedly wiped her hands with a kitchen towel, striding towards the entryway. She opened the door with a hurried smile. "I'm sorry for the delay," she apologized, cheeks flushed a becoming color due to the heat of the stove. "I was right in the middle of cooking."

Her visitor looked at her with a blank stare, which then turned into a frown.

Sakuno wasn't used to receiving frowns from strangers at her doorstep. As the seconds ticked by with nary a word passing his lips, she spoke again.

"May I help you?" she prompted, politely urging the man to state his business so that she could move on with her life. There was still the rest of dinner to prepare and a second load of laundry to wash before she could focus on her studies. She was maintaining an A average, but it was only because of the rigorous study schedule she adhered to. While Sakuno didn't mind entertaining guests on a moment's notice, mute strangers were a different story.

He stepped back, glancing up at the numbers on the trim of the roof, and then down to refer to the slip of paper in his hand. "Guess she moved," he mumbled, "it has been ten years…"

He looked up to address her. "Sorry. I'm at the wrong house." With a nod that didn't quite pass as a bow, as if even that gesture was an afterthought, he stepped back even further and turned away.

The borderline rudeness of his actions struck a long dormant trigger in her unconsciousness. He had looked and sounded Japanese, but had acted as if he had zero regard for the niceties that was used by polite society.

However, what if it wasn't disregard, but manners rusty from long disuse? Sakuno wondered about that as she looked at his retreating figure.

He paused in mid step, as though a thought had come to him. He faced her again. "You wouldn't happen to know the whereabouts of the last tenant, would you?"

"Last tenant?" Sakuno repeated, skin crinkling between delicately winged eyebrows. "I don't know. It's been obaa-chan and me for a long time now."

"Obaa-chan?" He stepped forward and leaned down to peer closely at her face. "Wait, you're Ryuzaki?"

"Hai," she confirmed, an automatic reaction upon hearing her name. How did this man know her?

He stared at her for a long time.

Sakuno leaned back. "Ano…"

"You don't remember me."

It was stated as a fact etched in stone. Why did she get the feeling that he was somehow amused? It was a good thing that there was still so much daylight outside. If this weird stranger had approached her when it was dark out, Sakuno would have shut the door in his face and bolted the locks, courtesy be damned. Instead, her grasp merely tightened around the doorknob.

He lifted his hand to extricate his sunglasses. The sharpness of his amber hued irises took her breath away. She hadn't seen those cat shaped eyes in a decade.

"Do you remember me now?"

"R-ryo—" her lips fumbled around the pronunciation of a long unspoken name. No. It wasn't Ryoma-kun anymore. There were too many years between them for that level of familiarity. "Echizen-san?" she whispered.

Ryoma snapped his fingers. "Bingo."


"I'm sorry I can't entertain you properly," she apologized as she led him into the house. "Stay for dinner. It's the least we can do. Obaa-chan will be pleased to see you."

She had offered to seat him in the living room, but he declined. Which was why Echizen Ryoma was currently standing in her kitchen, tea cup in hand, hip against the counter, body angled towards her as she stood in front of the stove once more.

It was decidedly odd. This wasn't what he was expecting when he woke up today.

Ryoma had a tennis competition in Tokyo, which was why he was back in Japan. Since he was in the area, he had come to pay his respects to his former coach in the form of VIP tickets to his match. It was short notice, which was why he dismissed sending them via postal service.

He had a block of free time from his practice schedule, which he wanted to use to visit his old neighborhood. It was only a slight detour off his path to swing by the Ryuzaki residence, say a quick hello, and drop off the tickets. He'd be on his way and back at the hotel by dinnertime.

So what was he doing, standing in Wobbly Hips' kitchen? And why did that old nickname come back to him? It had been years since he had last thought of her. Funny, how obscure memories resurfaced like that. But once they did, more memories of her returned.

In his mind's eye, she was still that twelve year old girl. Overly clumsy. Overly shy. Navigationally challenged. She had grown up in these ten years. It was hard reconciling those memories with this newly competent young woman.

She was wearing a white apron adorned with yellow gingham ruffles and a baby chick embroidered across the front. Thick mahogany hair was fashioned in a sleek ponytail that swished to and fro with each movement of her head. The ends were long enough to reach her shoulder blades, and Ryoma caught himself wondering how long her hair was when it was down. Not as long as her old pigtails, surely…

Her hands moved with dexterity and ease from longtime experience. Chop, chop, chop went the knife. A scrape and plunk and the tofu went into the miso soup. Clack, clack, clack went the brisk whisking of her chopsticks as she mixed the eggs she would coat the boneless pork chops in. A dip into the bread crumb mixture and then a sizzle, and the katsu were frying in a sea of oil.

Very, very odd.

She lifted the lids of several pots simmering on the stove and stirred their contents. One, a pot of curry. Another, a pot of stewed vegetables. Another, the aforementioned miso. The smells wafting towards his nose were wonderful, and he breathed deeply. The katsu were done and she plucked them out and laid them to drain on a metal rack.

"There, I'm just about finished," she looked at him with a smile.

He blinked, staring into reddish brown eyes that he had never noticed the color of before. This was Wobbly Hips?


It was good of him to come. They chatted easily, catching up on each others' lives as they waited for Sumire to return home. Sakuno had continued her education, studying to become a nurse. She was influenced by the hospital staff that had taken such good care of her grandmother back when they were still in middle school. Ryoma nodded, remembering those times. Then he recalled her concern whenever he got injured. Her kindness, matched with the easy proficiency she displayed in the kitchen, would transfer well into the nursing profession. She was perfect.

She told him about the lives of the Seigaku regulars, filling in the blank spots that he didn't know. He in return told her about his various travels abroad in foreign countries. Ryoma wasn't used to talking this much, but with Sakuno, it became effortless. The words flowed out easily.

It was… comfortable being in her presence. She wasn't awestruck. She wasn't out for a piece of him. She had no ulterior motives. She was simply interested in Echizen Ryoma, person. Not Echizen Ryoma, tennis superstar.

"I didn't know that Echizen-san was such a good storyteller," Sakuno said, mirth still evident on her lips as she wiped the tears from her eyes. He had just finished telling her about his hijinks in London, and the lengths he had undergone escaping the paparazzi. "You poor thing," she chuckled. "Well, don't worry about me. I won't sell your secrets to the press," she promised solemnly. "Not for much, anyway," she grinned.

Ryoma found himself grinning back.

He had stayed longer than he intended, but the company and food were just too good to pass up. Much as he hated to admit it, it was good to see Ryuzaki-sensei again, when she finally arrived. She didn't tease him as mercilessly as Nanjiroh predicted she would. Ryoma made a mental note to rub that in his father's face the next time they saw each other.

It wasn't in his original plans to have even stayed for tea, but he did have to eat dinner. Ryoma supposed that the locale didn't matter, as long as his stomach got fed. And with the sights and smells of the meal Sakuno had prepared, he knew that he could have done a lot worse.

He didn't regret it one bit, he decided as he shucked off his clothes and stepped under the inviting spray of his hotel room's showerhead. Strangely enough, he was looking forward to seeing a certain Ryuzaki in the VIP box during his match. She had promised that she would come support him.


It was a close game, but he had won. She was standing along with all the other spectators, clapping up a frenzy and cheering her head off. He wondered why hers was the only voice he could hear. He turned towards her and gave her a smirk. She smiled and waved in return.

He thought about her during his next match. And again in the matches after that. During mealtimes, he found himself craving katsu curry. The various restaurants he dined at never seemed to get it right though.

His schedule was too busy with the endless waltz of practice, interviews and matches for him to visit again. Instead, Ryoma sent tickets to the Ryuzaki residence via the hotel's courier service. He had tipped the courier a large sum of money to ensure that the envelope would be personally received within the hour. He should have done this sooner. The game was later this afternoon. With such short notice, what if she couldn't make it?

It was a possibility he preferred not to think about.


It was match point. Again. Ryoma was perspiring heavily, clothes clinging wetly to his body. He swiped his forehead with his damp wristband, using that moment to evaluate the player across the net. He and his opponent had traded leads for what seemed like an eternity. Ryoma had played against this man months ago. The game shouldn't have been this close. But his mind was distracted. She wasn't here.

Concentrate, he scolded himself. That didn't matter.

He tossed the ball up in the air and swung.

"Fault!" the umpire called out.

There was a rumble from the spectators. Fans cried out encouragement. The sounds blurred, turning into a haze of white noise. He had to concentrate. Only one serve left…

"Fight-o, Ryoma-kun!"

Only the astute would have noticed his reaction to those words. It was amazing that the voice could even be discerned from the roar of the crowd. His hand tightened around his racket. Under the brim of his cap, a corner of his lips curled up. In one smooth motion, Ryoma tossed the ball high up into the air and swung once more.

"Ace!"


"You came."

Sakuno nodded. "I finished a clinical rotation and got here as soon as I could. Thank you for the tickets, Echizen-san," she bowed. "Congratulations on your win."

Cat shaped eyes narrowed. He crossed his arms, leaning against the wall of the hallway. She had sought him out to thank him properly, waiting patiently after the post conference. When he spotted her, he had taken her to a secluded area, out of the way of the cleaning crew.

He was happy to see her, until she spoke. What was up with the formalities?

"As I recall it, it was 'Ryoma-kun'," he drawled.

Intense color flooded her cheeks. He had heard that? How embarrassing. Sakuno looked at her shoes, somehow feeling like the twelve year old girl she used to be. Was he upset? To call him Ryoma-kun was overly familiar. She knew better, but during the heat of the moment, watching him play a match just as how she did so many years ago, seeing him in a pinch, it was like old times. Her former reference for him had simply come.

"I'm sorr-"

"Don't be. I prefer it when you call me by my given name."

"Ryoma-kun?"

"No, just Ryoma," he clarified. "That's what everyone calls me in America. It's what I'm used to." He shrugged his shoulders. "Try it."

"Ryoma-kun." Sakuno covered her mouth, peering sheepishly at him from beneath her lashes. She couldn't help it. Adding the honorific was second nature.

He raised an eyebrow at her pathetic attempt. "Again."

"Ryoma. Kun." The petite young woman winced.

He tapped his foot. "Again."

She took it slower this time, concentrating hard. "R. Yo. Ma. Ku—" He pressed a finger against her lips. Reddish brown eyes widened at the contact.

Ryoma bent down until their gazes were level. "You're going to practice until you get it right. If you don't stop saying 'kun', the next time, I'm going to stop you more forcefully."

Sakuno waved his hand away, pouting in frustration. How unreasonable. He was in Japan right now. He could try being a little more Japanese. How could he expect her to go against propriety so easily? They weren't lovers. They weren't even good friends. Enough was enough. She placed her hands on her hips, eyes flashing. "Ryoma-kun is Ryoma-ku—nnfph!"

Once again, the rest of her sentence was muffled. True to his word, he had stopped her from saying it. Sakuno's body tensed from the initial shock, but then relaxed as the warmth of his mouth melted into hers. Her eyes shuttered as the kiss gentled. His lips slid over hers softly, coaxingly. When she responded, Ryoma took the half step that invaded her space, fingertips skimming across her cheekbones, thumbs positioning under her jaw, tilting her face up so his lips could move over hers with more ease.

He leaned back after a moment, taking in the view of her flushed expression and redden lips. A guy could get used to his girl looking like that, the stray thought twined through his consciousness. Ryoma straightened. "Again," he repeated.

Sakuno looked at him with an expression a cross between dumbfounded amazement and utter bafflement. "Ryoma." Her eyes rounded at her audacity. She had said it! Her face slowly started to burn.

Ryoma smirked. He had explained to her that his given name was what everyone called him back in the States. And that was true. But that wasn't the reason why he was so insistent that she call him that. He simply enjoyed the way his name sounded with her voice. The tennis prince looked at the terribly shy young woman standing in front of him, cheeks adorably flushed a bright scarlet hue. He wanted to put that blush on her face for the rest of his life.


Sakuno jerked to a start when Karupin meowed and leaped off her lap, running towards the door. "That must be him now," she murmured, wiping the sleep from her eyes. Karupin always had a sixth sense whenever Ryoma was concerned. Sakuno quickly learned to trust the feline's instincts.

Checking the status of their dinner one more time, Sakuno wiped her hands on the dish towel hanging on her shoulder as she pattered towards the entryway, smiling.

"Tadaima," Ryoma called as he bent down to ruffle the cat's fur. I'm home.

"Okaeri," Sakuno greeted. Welcome back.


"By the way, kaa-san called. She was going over our wedding album, and she was wondering when we're going to make her a grandma."

Sakuno almost choked on her tea. They hadn't even been married for a month and already her mother-in-law was asking for this sort of thing?

"But… we already… so much," she replied in halting tones, crimson tingeing her cheeks.

"So much what?" Ryoma leaned in, cat shaped eyes wide with feigned curiosity. Kami-sama, did he love teasing his wife.

Sakuno leaned back, trying to regain some personal space. It was hard to think clearly when he was so close. Even after marriage, he still had the power to turn her brain to mush. The lingering scent of soap from his recent bath wafted towards her nose, disorienting her senses even more.

"You, you know." She was grasping at straws. Panicked eyes searched amidst the room, looking for help. Anything would do. They homed in on a red racket propped against the far wall. The verb popped out to her in her frenzied grasp for words. It was a familiar term, one she could say freely without excruciating embarrassment. "Practice."

"Practice?"

"Un," she nodded. "Practice. We already… practice… so much."

"Practice, huh?" he smirked, rolling the word over in his mind. After all the times they've been intimate, she still resorted to a euphemism to refer to that. Ryoma mentally shook his head, half marveling over the fact, half resigned to it. He should have known. His little Sakuno was still adorably innocent. She couldn't say the word 'sex' like a normal person. No, she had to use a different word as a replacement. Well, he could indulge her in her foibles. They were one of the things that made her so cute.

Besides, thinking of it from another angle, all of their lovemaking really was just practice until they produced a child. He grinned, a brief flash of pointy canine teeth bared in his wolfish smile. Ryoma could be very diligent when he had a goal. If kaa-san wanted grandchildren, who was he to disappoint?

"I suppose that we'll have to put in extra hours of practice then."

"…extra?" Sakuno cocked her head in a slight befuddled expression. But we already… so much…

"Aa," he clarified. "Morning practice. Afternoon practice. Oh, and evening practice." Ryoma leaned into Sakuno, nose nuzzling the fine hairs and the delicate shell of her ear. His warm breath ghosted upon her sensitized skin, making her shiver. "We mustn't neglect evening practice."

Sakuno blushed, cheeks ablaze at his innuendo. But she raised her eyes to peer at her husband from under her bangs. Her lips moved, voice whisper soft. "I like practice."

The deep sound of masculine laughter echoed throughout the hall as Ryoma scooped Sakuno up and carried her towards their bedroom.

FIN